Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Through the eye-holes at the Ashmolean Museum

As I leave the Japanese galleries I glimpse a masked dancer behind glass in a corridor. The convulsive anguish of her movements and the pale set face make me think of kabuki theatre and shibari (Japanese rope bondage) which I draw for another blog.

Some people pause to watch; school parties giggle; the dancer is an importuning wraith trapped in the architecture.

There is a trend to use museums and galleries for professional performance and random flailing by the public: it is deemed a privilege for punters to turn their back on the works and work out. This can expose vulnerable exhibits to impact and vibration. Today, however, no artefact is in harm's way: the dancer is a nimble flyweight positioned in empty passages.

On my way out I find an information sheet. The inspiration is not Japanese after all.

Marie-Louise Crawley is performing the dance/mime she choreographed in 15-minute segments, Likely Terpsichore? (Fragments).

The title is based on the museum's Roman marble statue of a seated woman minus head, arms and harp who might represent Terpsichore, the Greek muse of dance.

Marie-Louise depicts women from Ovid's Metamorphoses: Myrrha, Philomela, Medusa, and Pygmalion's nameless marble statue who comes to life and, in later versions of the story, is called Galatea.


Marie-Louise Crawley devised this work while artist in residence at the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama where she also contributed to the APGRD's Leverhulme-funded 'Performing Epic' project. Please contact the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for details of future performances.

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